ROLI – a UK startup which has created a series of next-generation musical instruments – has announced that Pharrell Williams is joining its team as Chief Creative Officer.
The producer, songwriter and cultural icon will work with ROLI to develop revolutionary new musical instruments that are iconic, digitally connected and accessible to all. As part of their long-term partnership, Pharrell will invest and become a co-owner of the company.
The collaboration comes in the wake of ROLI’s award-winning Seaboard and BLOCKS, which have been called ‘two of the most compelling music-making devices in recent memory’.
- The Seaboard reimagines the piano keyboard as a smooth, continuous, touch-responsive surface where any kind of sound is possible
- BLOCKS empowers people to create songs and customise the instrument on which they play them via its Lego-like music-making system
ROLI and Pharrell Williams have celebrated their new partnership by releasing the free Happy by Pharrell studiopack in ROLI’s NOISE app. By touching the surface of a smartphone or ROLI instrument, fans can play around with the vocals, beats and basslines that made Happy a global hit. Happy by Pharrell is the first in a series of NOISE studiopacks that will let people recreate hit songs – or become inspired to take the elements of a song in a completely different direction.
In an event at London’s Hackney Empire on 25 October 2017, Pharrell Williams and Roland Lamb, Founder of ROLI and inventor of its instruments, discussed the question, ‘Why Create?’. Sharing their experiences as musicians and technologists, they explored how technology is unleashing new ways for people to express themselves creatively in music and beyond.
Pharrell Williams said:
‘Music touches all of us and, for a long time, I’ve been passionate about finding ways to share the power of music with more people. When I met Roland and ROLI, I immediately felt we were working towards exactly the same goals and so I’m super excited that we’re kicking off this partnership.’
Roland Lamb said:
‘Our mission is to empower everyone to create music and, more broadly, to empower people as creators. Pharrell is not just an extraordinary musician, he embodies creativity. His ideas will take us in exciting new directions and we’re thrilled to share our first collaboration – the Happy by Pharrell studiopack.’
Header photo: Roland Lamb and Pharrell Williams discuss new technologies for music creation at ROLI’s East London headquarters